Recent advances in nanomaterial-based electrochemical and optical sensing platforms for microRNA assays
MicroRNA (MiRNA) plays a crucial role in biological cells to enable assessment of a cancer's development stage. Increasing evidence has shown that the accurate and sensitive detection of miRNA holds the key toward correct disease diagnosis. However, some characteristics of miRNAs, such as their short chains, low concentration, and similar sequences, make it difficult to detect miRNA in biological samples. Nanomaterials usually have good optical, electronic, and mechanical properties and therefore provide new possibilities for improving the performance of miRNA assays. Many different sorts of nanomaterials, including metal nanomaterials, carbon nanomaterials, quantum dots, and transition-metal dichalcogenides, have been used to construct optical and electrochemical assays for miRNA and have shown attractive results. This review describes recent efforts in the application of nanomaterials as sensing elements in electrochemical and optical miRNA assays. The analytical figures of merit of various methods for the detection of miRNA are compared in the present article. The current capabilities, limitations, and future challenges in miRNA detection and analysis based on nanomaterials are also addressed.